In a new interview with NBC News, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton as “the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States.” But not long ago, Trump was saying that he thought Clinton was doing a “good job” as America’s top diplomat.
Clinton has been wielding Trump like a cudgel against the entire Republican 2016 field, seeking to elevate him as the face of the GOP, especially on immigration. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Clinton sought to tie Jeb Bush and other GOP presidential candidates to Trump’s incendiary comments on Mexican immigrants.
“I feel very bad and very disappointed with him and with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying, enough, stop it,” she said. “They range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants.”
Trump fired back Wednesday in an interview with NBC News’ Katy Tur. “Hillary Clinton was the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States,” he said. “There’s never been a secretary of state so bad as Hillary. The world blew up around us, we lost everything, including all relationships. There wasn’t one good thing that came out of that administration or her being secretary of state.”
Asked if she would be a good president, Trump teed off: “She was the worst secretary of state in the history of our nation, why would she be a good president? I think she would be a terrible president.”
As fellow New Yorkers, Trump and Clinton have had something of a personal relationship. The Clintons attended Trump’s 2005 wedding, and the mogul donated to Clinton’s Senate campaign. So perhaps it’s not surprising that he was more positive about Clinton in the not-too-distant past.
“Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman,” he told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in March of 2012. “I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard.”
“I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her,” he added of the then-secretary of state.
In August of that year, he told Van Susteren that it would be very difficult for a Republican candidate to beat her. “If you don’t have the perfect candidate, Hillary will be president. I assume she’s going to get the nomination, it looks like that way,” he said.
“It would certainly seem Hillary’s going to get the nomination and she will be tougher to beat. Actually, she’ll be tougher to beat than President Obama in my opinion. So they need the perfect candidate,” he added.
Earlier that same year, he told Van Susteren that Clinton would have made a better president than Barack Obama. “I think she would have been a better – first of all, I think we would have had a more unified country. We wouldn’t have had a country where the Republicans hate the Democrats,” he said.
It was a standard line for Republicans at the time, who suggested Clinton was the better Democrat than Obama.
Trump’s positive remarks on Clinton came before the Benghazi terror attack in September of 2012, so it’s possible the attack changed his impression of Clinton. In October of 2013, however, Trump told Larry King he “very much” liked Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In a statement provided to msnbc via a spokesperson, Trump did not cite Benghazi or any other reason for the apparent change of heart. “Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the United States. On top of that, she is extremely bad on illegal immigration,” Trump said in the statement.
“Despite anything you may hear to the contrary, I do not think she is electable.”